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Top 10 Biggest Trades in NBA History

This time of year the NBA rumor mill seems to be producing new potential trades daily. Whether any of these trades actually occur is still unknown, but it is always fun to speculate.

While some trades seem to make sense and all teams involved seem to get an even take from the deal, sometimes we can look back at trades that have taken place and see just how lopsided they were, and how they completely changed the history of the NBA.

So whether you consider these to be the "best" or "worst" trades all depends on who you root for. Either way these are the 10 biggest trades in NBA history.

10. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to the Celtics (2007)

Celtics Receive: Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis

Sonics Receive: Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, Jeff Green

Timberwolves Receive: Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, and Theo Ratliff

The Celtics would go on to win the NBA championship in the first year with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. "Super teams" would become a regular site not too long after this monumental trade.

9. Dennis Rodman traded to the Bulls (1995)

Bulls Receive: Dennis Rodman 

Spurs Receive: Will Purdue and cash.

Rodman would go on to be a huge part of the Bulls who went on to win the next three NBA championships. He continued to be an animal on the boards averaging 14.9, 16.1, and 15.0 rebounds per game over those three seasons. 

8. Lebron James to the Heat (2010)

Heat Receive: Lebron James

Cavaliers Receive: Two first-round picks

2012 second-round pick (from Pelicans)

Future second-round pick (from thunder)

Option to swap 2012 first round pick

A large trade exception($15 million)

The cavaliers went from a title contending team to getting the first pick in the NBA draft. The Heat meanwhile would go to the next 4 NBA Finals winning two of them. While most believe this was a free agent signing, it was actually a sign and trade that involved arguably the greatest basketball player ever.

7. Dirk Nowitzki to the Mavericks (1998)

Mavericks Receive:  Dirk Nowitzki and Pat Garrity

Bucks Receive: Robert Traylor

When the Bucks drafted the 7 foot German with the 9th overall pick in 1998 not many new what to make of the player. He has since become the face of the franchise winning a championship in 2011 and becoming one of the top players of his era.

6. Robert Parish and Kevin McHale to the Celtics (1980)

Celtics Receive: Robert Parish, 1980 3rd overall pick (Kevin McHale)

Warriors Receive: 1980 1st and 13th overall picks

In 1980 the Warriors traded Robert Parish and the draft pick that would turn into Kevin McHale to the Celtics for just two first round picks. This was considered one of the best front courts in NBA history and they would go on to win three championships together in 1981, 1984, and 1986.

5. Scottie Pippen traded to the Bulls (1987)

Bulls Receive: Scottie Pippen

Sonics Receive: Olden Polynice

Scottie Pippen was drafted 5th overall by the Seattle SuperSonics. He would quickly be dealt to the Chicago Bulls for another top pick Olden Polynice.  One would go on to win 6 NBA championships, be a member of "the Dream Team," and be named as one of the top 50 players ever. The other went on to average 7.8 ppg and 6.7 rpg. I think you know who is who.

4. Wilt Chamberlain sent to the Lakers (1968)

Lakers Receive: Wilt Chamberlain

76ers Receive: Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark, and Darrall Imhoff

The previous year wilt Chamberlain averaged 24.3 points per game, 23.8 rebounds per game, and 8.6 assists per game and lead the 76ers to an NBA championship. Despite all of that they decided to trade one of the greatest big men in NBA history to the Lakers. He would go on to win the MVP for the 4th time in 1968 and in 1972 he lead the Lakers to an NBA championship. This one still has us scratching our heads. 

3. Kobe Bryant lands with the Lakers (1996)

Lakers Receive: Kobe Bryant

Hornets Receive: Vlade Divac

The lakers took a risk when they traded one of their fan favorites for a high school kid. The trade would end up being huge for the franchise as Kobe Bryant is now considered by some as "the greatest Laker ever." Bryant won five NBA championships and one MVP award during his career.

2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar traded to the Lakers (1975)

Lakers Receive: Kareem Abbdul-Jabbar

Bucks Receive: Brian Winters, Elmore Smith, Junior Bridgeman, and Dave Meyers

The Bucks are still probably kicking themselves for this one. After playing with the Bucks for six seasons, he played his final fifteen with the Lakers. He would win five championships, three MVP awards, and go on to set the record for most points scored in NBA history. 

1. Bill Russell ends up with the Celtics (1956)'

Celtics Receive: Bill Russell

Hawks Receive: Cliff Hagan and Ed Macauley

In 1956 the St. Louis Hawks simply couldn't afford to sign Bill Russell who was their second overall pick in the draft. They were forced to trade him to the Celtics where Russell would go on to win eleven championships and five MVP awards in just thirteen seasons. 

 


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